Office Hours

The following page will provide Office Hours tips specific to CS135 Office Hours. For more information on general Office Hours tips, please consult the general ISG training.


Before Office Hours

Always try to complete the assignment before it is officially released to best help students in Office Hours. It is a good idea to have the solutions open with you for your own reference while assisting students. As well, be sure to look over the solutions of other ISAs and Instructors to gain exposure to different ways students may approach each problem. This is especially important in later assignments.

Close any unrelated sites or tabs. There is always a chance in your calls that you may need to share your screen to students -- only have tabs open related to the job to maintain good professionalism. As well, do not have any tabs visible when screen-sharing that contain confidential information such as future assignment details, answers, or marks.

During Office Hours

Always approach each call with patience and empathy. While there are some students who don't fall into this category, most Office Hours attendees are stressed about assignments and worried about performance. Especially in CS135, students can spend hours trying to debug or work through a question before asking for help. Therefore, always make an effort to be kind and understanding with student concerns.

If a student is asking for help with writing a function and has not yet written the design recipe, ask them to complete the design recipe and rejoin the queue. Often times, student misunderstanding finds its source in not knowing the consumed and produced data types.

Later in the course when assignments become difficult, a fair number of students will attempt to beat the lines by leaving multiple messages in the queue before they have been called for the first one. There are a couple sneaky ways to do this. For example, a student may delete their second message in the queue but undelete it after they've been called once, which retains the original place of the second message, and is unfair to the dozens of others who haven't been called at all. If you catch any students doing this, delete their messages and notify them on behalf of the course staff not to do this any more.

Do not give out answers! It is easy to feel too much empathy and concern for students and giving them the answers. Alternatively, some students may annoy you to the point that you want to give them the answers just so you can end the call. Please resist the urge to do so, and don't fear being assertive. It is okay and preferable to guide students towards the intended solutions using leading questions and reference to existing student knowledge, but if a student asks more of you, simply tell them that you cannot give any more information. They will surely understand.

Try to keep calls to a maximum of 20-25 minutes, depending on the length of the queue. This is especially tough in CS135 in which questions are tough and queues are long. However, it is important that you are able to give each student a fair amount of help and do not have to work overtime to finish up calls. When you realize a call has gone on for too long, give the student a summary of the tips that you have discussed, and tell them that you have to move on.

Help each other out! If you feel that queues are too long for the current staff to handle, leave a message on Teams asking others to help out. Alternatively, if you are not on Office Hours duty and you receive one of these messages, help out your colleagues!

After Office Hours

Last but not least, we all make mistakes! There will be times in which you may accidentally give out too much information, screen share onto a wrong page, or say something that comes off poorly. While it is okay to make this mistakes, always own up to them! Let your supervisor know and apologize to the student involved. We're all human and make mistakes sometimes -- just try not to let it happen again!


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Topic revision: r4 - 2021-12-22 - AdamAbdulhamid
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